Monaghan's Michael Hamill celebrates at the Athletic Grounds.
Monaghan's Michael Hamill celebrates at the Athletic Grounds.

Electric Ireland Ulster MFC Final: Monaghan retain title

Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Final


By Francis Mooney at the Athletic Grounds

Monaghan retained their Ulster MFC title with a narrow win over Tyrone in a thriller at the Athletic Grounds.

It was was in the balance right to the end, but in truth, the Farney lads should have won more comfortably, having hit 17 wides.

Michael Hamill hit the crucial goal 12 minutes into the second half, after Michael McGleenan had netted fir the Red Hands.

Early scores from Luke Donnelly and Michael McGleenan got the Red Hands off to a positive start, but the holders settled into a steady rhythm to get their running game going

They responded with points from Kyle Connolly and Darragh Dempsey, and started to win ball, broken and clean, around midfieled,d with Karl Gallagher emerging as a major influence.

However, Tyrone broke in numbers from deep, with wing backs James Donaghy and Sean O’Donnell always willing to get involved, and when Mark Devlin drilled a ’45 between the posts, they led by 0-5 to 0-2.

It was looking good for the Red Hands, but the Farney tightened up at the back, and full back Ronan Boyle made an important intervention, and he also got himself forward to set up an inspiring Eoin Duffy score to narrow the gap to a point, before skipper Jason Irwin brought them level at the end of the opening quarter.

And as the creative influence of Karl Gallagher increased, the holders went in front for the first time through Diarmuid Marron.

Tyrone's Michael McGleenan on the attack at the Athletic Grounds.
Tyrone's Michael McGleenan on the attack at the Athletic Grounds.

After conceding five on the spin, the Red Hands got back in to level through Donnelly, but it was Monaghan who led by 0-9 to 0-8 at the end of a terrific opening half.

The second period started in sensational fashion, with McGleenan seizing possession from the throw-in, and powering through the middle to drill his shot to the net for a stunning goal.

Tyrone had found a new gear, pushing three clear with a fourth from Donnelly.

But Gallagher was still working wonders, winning a mark to set up a score for Irwin, and the game turned back in their favour with a 43rd minute Michael Hamill goal.

Monaghan continued to press, but their shooting let them down, and a string of wides kept their opponents very much in the hunt, before Dempsey converted a 45 metre free.

Midfielder Conor McKernan kept them moving forward, and after Ciaran Daly had narrowed the gap to a point, Dempsey sealed it for Monaghan with a ’45.

Scorers for Monaghan: D Dempsey 0-5 (1f, 145), M Hamill 1-1, J Irwin 0-2, S Slevin, E Duffy, K Gallagher, K Connolly, and D Marron 0-1 each.

Scorers for Tyrone: M McGleenan 1-1, L Donnelly 0-4 (2fs), M Devlin 0-3 (1 45), D Fullerton, C Daly, and S O'Donnell 0-1 each.

MONAGHAN: J Kirk; S Slevin, R Boyle, S Hanratty; C Maguire, E Duffy, D Treanor; C McKernan, K Gallagher; K Connolly, D Marron, M Hamill; D Dempsey, J Irwin, L McDonald.

Subs: T Kierans for Marron (41), D Kerley for McKernan (60+2).

TYRONE: F Coney; C Cuddy, M McCann, S Sweeney; J Donaghy, N Devlin, S O’Donnell; S Donaghy, M McGleenan; R Campbell, M Devlin, S Daly; A McGrath, D Fullerton, L Donnelly.

Subs: S Gallagher for Donaghy (44), R Canavan for Donnelly (48), C Daly for M Devlin (50), R McHugh for Campbell (60), E Neill for O’Donnell (60).

REFEREE: D Mullan (Derry).